£15m ex-Porto midfielder has settled well in England but it is difficult being away from his new child and partner
The midfielder, 20, flew home to Portugal the day after the first game of the season in time to see his partner Debora give birth to baby daughter Margarida.
Ruben Neves has settled in quickly at Wolves following his £15m switch from Porto
Midfield starlet Ruben Neves is loving life in the Championship after top-flight football in Portugal for Porto
And while he has settled in superbly at Molineux since his £15million summer move from Porto, Neves revealed that being away from his newborn and Debora has not been easy.
In his first interview with an English newspaper, Neves told SunSport: “Not seeing them is the hardest part of all.
“But thank God for social networks because it is so easy to get in touch nowadays — it’s almost like they’re here.
“Becoming a father is incredible. There is no explanation for the feeling.
“I was there for the birth. I went over on the Sunday and came back on the Tuesday.
“I think fatherhood will be a very pleasant change. It is one of the best things you can do and I feel prepared to be a father. I’m sure I will enjoy it.”
Ruben Neves tells SunSport reporter Tom Barclay about the huge changes in his life on and off the field
Portugal international Ruben Neves, who has two full caps, has adjusted impressively to English football
Neves, currently living with his dad, will soon be reunited with his young family when they come to England next month.
As well as a new child, Neves also has his first goal for his new side.
But there was no Bebeto-esque baby celebration after netting against Hull last week.
Neves added: “There were too many mixed emotions and all my team-mates came over to me, so I didn’t have time for a particular celebration.
“I don’t think adapting over here will be much of a problem for us. I always prefer the weather to be cooler.
“The baby will always be a Porto fan. But wherever I am, of course she will support her father’s team.”
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Neves, a holding midfielder who says he bases his game on Andrea Pirlo, is from the “small and very humble” town of Lourosa, south of Porto.
He grew up “with a ball at his feet” and played for local team Lusitania de Lourosa, as many of his relatives did.
But unlike them, he went on to make it as a professional.
He made 92 appearances for Porto, where he still holds the record for the youngest player to captain a side in the Champions League (18 years and 221 days against Maccabi Tel Aviv), before following boss Nuno Espirito Santo to Wolves this summer.
Rune Neves says his super-agent Jorge Mendes is nice to deal with and humble
Jorge Mendes is known as a super-agent whose list of top Portuguese clients includes Ruben Neves as well as Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo
Despite being small in stature and softly spoken, you can sense a steeliness that makes him a natural leader.
And, of course, he is a Jorge Mendes client, as are so many of Wolves’ Portuguese recruits.
On his super-agent, who also looks after Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and more megastars, Neves explained: “He tries to give me the best opportunities. I have to work for him to prove that I am worth those opportunities.
“He’s a nice person to deal with and a very humble person. The contacts that he has, he can place a player in almost any club nowadays, he’s so famous.
Holding midfielder Ruben Neves bases his game on Italy icon Andrea Pirlo
“I met Jorge Mendes in 2014 and we see each other now and again. Not only him, but his collaborators. He can’t be everywhere at the same time, so he has people who work for him.
“We meet whenever we need to and we have an excellent relationship.
“Of course I trust him a lot because he is the right person to trust because he looks after my career. I am sure he will really improve my career a lot.”
Eyebrows were raised when a player of his ability — with two international caps already — opted to move to England’s second tier.
Ruben Neves is grateful for social media to keep in touch with his family
But Neves insists it is the perfect place for him to grow as a player.
With their Portuguese contingent, including ex-Porto team-mate Diogo Jota and Helder Costa, media interest back home in Wolves has risen dramatically.
Neves explained: “England has good visibility at the moment. The Portuguese media has mentioned it a lot and the more the better. It’s good for everyone. Every player wants to be there in the national team. I’m sure they look everywhere, at every single player.
“I’m sure with the hard work and commitment I’ve been putting in, my time will come. I’m quite young still.
“Obviously the Champions League is the top of football, where everyone wants to play.
Ruben Neves says the Championship is the right place for him to develop
“But at the moment I am playing every game in the Championship, I want to grow as a player.
“That’s what I’m doing at the moment. I think the Championship is the right place for that.”
Neves spoke through an interpreter but revealed he has been taking English lessons for a while — even before he knew he was coming to this country — just because he thought it was “an important thing to know”.
With that kind of forward planning, he should take to fatherhood just as seamlessly as he has to life at Wolves.
l Wolves face last year’s finalists Southampton tonight in the second round of the Carabao Cup, sponsored by Carabao Energy Drink.
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